Free MLB Picks and Parlays – Thursday, August 9th, 2018

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When he's not injured, Seattle's James Paxton is one of the game's best

Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB Picks column for Thursday, August 9th.  The Pirates got us the win we were looking for on Wednesday, narrowly defeating the Rockies 4-3 and breaking us out of our four game slump.  Chris Archer hasn’t been anywhere near dominant in his first two starts for Pittsburgh, but we’re going to keep betting on him as long as he’s being made an underdog against far inferior opponents.

We’re going to be taking an even larger underdog on Thursday, as the oddsmakers have overestimated the advantage that Justin Verlander and the Astros have over James Paxton and the Mariners, especially with key members of Houston’s offense on the disabled list.  We’re all about that value, and we see plenty of it being offered here. Let’s get into it.

Seattle Mariners (Paxton) at Houston Astros (Verlander)

Game Time: 8:10 PM EST

Where to Watch:  MLB Network

Run Line: Mariners +1.5 (-163)

Moneyline: Mariners +147

Bet the Mariners +147

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Mariners Astros Pick

Two bonafide aces will be taking the mound in Houston on Thursday night.  Justin Verlander is the bigger name for a myriad of reasons: his Cy Young/MVP combo in 2011, his dominance in the 2017 playoffs, and his wife, to name a few.  Few would be able to tell you as much about Seattle’s James Paxton - if he’s got a supermodel wife, I’ve never heard about it.  However, despite the difference in Q Score, we believe Paxton is the better pitcher right now.

Verlander’s 2.19 ERA through 24 starts is spectacular, but there’s reason to believe that he’s been quite lucky to reach that number.  First off, his left-on-base percentage is an absurd 87.7%, highest in baseball and over 13% higher than his career mark.  There’s no way he sustains that kind of rate, so naturally more runs should be crossing the plate against him going forward.

Verlander is also due to allow some more homers than he has so far - he’s got the lowest ground ball rate of his career at 30%, and he’s got the highest fly-ball rate in the majors at 52.3%.  How he’s only allowed 1.09 HR/9 this season in Minute Maid Park while allowing that many fly-balls is a minor miracle - we think something has to give there.

Seattle’s James Paxton is a very similar pitcher to Verlander, except that he’s oft-injured and he should allow far fewer homers going forward.  The oft-injured part is what keeps Paxton from getting the headlines; if he makes three more starts this season, he will have made more starts in 2018 than any other in his six year career.  Based on the lines being offered on Thursday, this has apparently kept him off the radars of the betting public as well.

Like Verlander, Paxton sports an elite strikeout rate - he’s 6th amongst qualified starters in K/9 to Verlander’s 4th.  Unlike Verlander though, he coaxes far more ground balls and should be able to avoid the long ball at a better rate for the remainder of 2018.  

At full-strength the Astros offense is one of the game’s best, but three of their best four hitters (Springer, Altuve and Correa) currently reside on the DL.  Correa may return on Thursday, and that could swing the line a bit.  If you’re a careful bettor you may want to wait on this news, but honestly we like the line we’re getting here regardless.

The Mariners’ offense is no chopped-liver either; they’re 10th in baseball in wRC+.  Nelly Cruz is showing no signs of slowing down in his late 30s, and Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger continue to make Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto look like a genius for trading Taijuan Walker for the pair in 2016.  If Kyle Seager starts hitting again, this offense could be quite fearsome down the stretch.

It’s rare that you get a chance to bet on a pitcher of James Paxton’s quality as a underdog, but the public loves a big name and a defending champion.  We think that both Verlander and the Astros’ ailing offense are being overrated by Thursday’s odds, so we’ll happily take Paxton and the Mariners +147 at BetOnline as our MLB pick of the day.

Thanks for checking in LazyBets readers - we’ll be right back here for Friday’s picks, and hopefully we’ll have a winning streak going by then.  If you liked today’s pick but have nowhere to wager on it, go check out our approved sportsbooks list - we’re sure that you’ll find a good option and probably a sweet sign-up bonus as well.

Good luck degens.  As always, let’s get a win!

Bet the Mariners +147

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